All photographs © Mel Birnkrant. Some of the images © the Walt Disney Company
Welcome to the MICKEY MOUSE MOUSE-EUM! The Grand Opening Party is about to begin. We are here a little early, with just enough time to enjoy a private tour, before the crowds arrive.
Behold the giant archway! The bright red ribbon, designed to keep the public out, until the show is open, is still in place. Help yourself to a Souvenir Catalogue, from the revolving rack on the right; then, duck under the ribbon and step inside.
The first amazing sight that meets a visitor’s eyes is the stunning pair of hand carved figures from a French Carousel, circa 1935.
In spite of my long distance lust for cabinetry, thinking up everything I could as an excuse for another showcase or frame, it was, nonetheless, Bambergers display department that made this show a huge success. Their experience, intuition, and intellect, were just right. And it was really quite amazing how everything fell together in the end. There was not a single element out of place. And they also had the intuitive good sense to feature these impressive carvings, and make them the centerpiece of the entire show. The pedestal and lighting combined to create the illusion that they absolutely glowed!
At first glance, these photos may seem a little repetitious. But, I hope they recreate the feeling that the viewer has just entered the show, and is casually looking around, as I was doing at the time. To the left of the two carousel figures, we see Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle, now, mounted to the wall and protected by a sheet of Plexiglas.
Looking to the right, we see the Lars Dolls, displayed in the handsome and delightfully large showcase, in which they were destined to remain for the next 42 years, right up till this very day.
Then we circle the centerpiece...
to see the Mickey rocking horse on the other side. The floating yellow dot works effectively, on both sides. Beyond Mickey, we spot the neon electric clock. Its delicately animated Mickey continued to rotate, glow, and display the time of day, throughout the show, for the next six weeks.
As we walk around the MOUSE-EUM we get to see the Lars dolls up close. Large images, like these, helped the show to seem dynamic.
Not far away, stand the Lars Mickey and Minnie, called “Typo Vecchio.” These were recreated for yours truly, by Lars of Italy, using patterns created for Walt Disney himself, in the early 1930’s.
The last Lars dolls we see are the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, displayed in a sort of room divider, visible from both sides.
Beyond them, we glimpse the Christmas tree that stood right in the middle of the exhibition, and lent a cheery touch of Christmas spirit to the show. The decorations on the tree were generic. But, underneath it, was a cornucopia of Disney Christmas Presents from the era.
Several boxes of authentic 1930’s Noma lights lay beneath the tree. Here and there, a few tiny Italian lights had been inserted to make them glow. They looked as if they were just about to be used to decorate the branches.
And here we see the tall showcase, designed to display the Mickey Marionettes. This towering showcase was a dramatic success.
Beyond the puppet case, we see the cast iron Mickey Bank.
This was the item that started me collecting Mickey. And its presentation was most dramatic. The Catalogue described it as the only one known; and, at the time, it was.
Speaking of dramatic, the Mickey Mouse Waddle Book, in its own free-standing case, looked amazing! It remains in that very same case, right up to the present day!
Of all the overblown ideas I came up with, this huge double tiered showcase was the most extreme. Here it serves to display the two Lionel Handcars, Mickey Mouse and Donald. I have put the case to better use, today, crowded with a hundred windup toys.
Here are two impressive dolls, each with a showcase of its own. Minnie was made by Steiff, and Mickey is of origins unknown. He was possibly made by Charlotte Clark.
Bamberger's display department aided me in setting up these two small intimate displays. They make the most of some rather trivial things.
This showcase was made to order for the Keystone projector. It was set up to create the illusion that it was projecting Mickey Mouse cartoons on the wall.
Here are a group of children, on the evening of the Grand Opening, watching the timeless antics of Mickey Mouse.
Let’s step back, now, to survey the entire show. Although, it was presented forty years ago, it still seems viable and meaningful, even spectacular, today.
These are only half the photos. The show continues on the next page, where we will zoom into each and every showcase.